Trautmann on Alexander the Great and The Mauryan Empire



1.    Alexander the Great

a.    Darius I had annexed the Punjab and Sindh in 518 BCE

b.    Ongoing influence of Persian (Old Persian shared many similarities with Sanskrit – Indo European Languages), continued its influence until the end of the Moghul Emprie in the 19th century)

c.    Alex. conquered the Persian king Darius III

d.    Settled in the Pujab in 326 BCE, Armies refused to go further

e.    Alex. Died in 321.

f.     Left control of these areas of India and the regions to the West (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Persia) to his generals.

g.    Initiated long period of cultural interaction and diplomacy between India and (modern) Greece – in politics, art, architecture, science, literature, philosophy, drama, coinage.


2.    Candragupta Maurya (ruled 324-298 BCE)

a.    Liberated the north-west frontier, seized control of Eastern kingdom of Maghada.

b.    Married the daughter of a Greek

c.    Developed unique form of statecraft, arthashastras.

d.    Capitol at Patna (Pataliputra) on Ganga – controlled the river

e.    Received the Greek Ambassador Megasthenes, who later wrote about India in his Indika.

3.    Ashoka Grandson of Chandragupta (ruled  269-233 BCE)

a.    Aggressive military campaigns – one particularly bloody battle at Kalinga 261 BCE

b.    Remorse for all the suffering he had caused, adopted Buddhism

c.    Established a new political philosophy based on Buddhist principles, dhamma, including non-violence and toleration

d.    Constructed 14 rock pillars with extensive inscriptions, describing his philosophy of rule, public life, his history,


Next period (200 BCE to 300 CE) sets the stage for Classical Age of India (320 CE to 1000 CE)

      Early centuries of the Common Era.

      Intense cultural contact and exchange: including with Roman Empire in the West.

      Foreign incursions, smaller kingdoms contending, establishment of the great Gupta Empire.

      India becomes a major player in the global economy.

      Robust trade – Spice routes by sea, silk route from China and the West.